Blue Hill

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Dumpster Dive Salad

He’s done it again. Dan Barber never ceases to thrill, challenge and inspire me as a diner. This time he really topped himself. As you may know, Dan is one of the most responsibly sustainable chefs in the world. He is always questioning how we can be more responsible stewards of the earth. This new iteration has a simple formula: Make a meal out of scraps. And so he did.


Broken Razor Clams and pig's ear vinaigrette

Now, some were his scraps, but most were purchased from the food vendors that Dan works with for his normal menus. He did not want free scraps but wanted to teach the vendors that scraps have value. He has pushed the needle so far again.

Veggie Pulp Burger, Spent Grains Bread

Skate Wings, Monkfsh Wings

Beef Tallow Candle

Leftover Brown Rice and Broccoli

Discarded Greens with Aged Beef Rib Broth

Cocoa Husk Sorbet, Chocolate with Almond Pulp

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Dorothy w/Daniel Humm

Last Monday was a stellar September day. Not only was the sky peacock blue and the air tinged with perfect fall crispness but I was spending the day with many of the top chefs in the world at the idyllic Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills, NY. Joan Roca, Michel Gras, Daniel Humm, Ferran Adria and so many other super stars joined Dan Barber, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Blue Hill NYC to do a deep dive on seeds and genetic engineering. What? Did you say genetic engineering? Are these chefs into GMOs? Actually not.

Stone Barns Center

From top left clockwise: Ferran Adria, Joan Roca, Adam Kaye, Floyd Cardoz

L to R: Michel Gras, Dan Barber, Dorothy, Francois Payard, Daniel Humm

What they heard from world glass genetic breeders and discussed among themselves from 10 am to 7:30 pm is the concept of chefs working with genetic breeders to create exquisite fruits, vegetables and grains. Actually that is something that nature itself has been doing for the past 10,000 years. Think a nectarine, which is a cross between a peach and a plum. How is that different from GMOs? GMOs are genetic transfers between two species that would not cross pollinate in nature. Think fish gene inserted into a tomato.

Ferran Adria

Acorn Squash

So, what did we learn? That genes are place sensitive. Have you ever brought home seeds from a vacation, planted them and found them not to be as delicious as your lingering memory?  There is a reason for that. Great seed growers plant hundreds of seeds and then watch for the one or two plants that are vibrant survivors in their field tests. Your soil may not have the same characteristics as the test fields and hence, the attributes of the seed might not perform as well in your backyard in Brooklyn. You might start thinking about saving the seeds from the best tasting tomato in your veggie garden and become a geneticist yourself. I think a lot of the chefs left thinking they were on to expanding their horizons in that direction.

Menu courtesy of Stone Barns Center

After yesterday it seems so obvious that chefs in their never ending quest for the most delicious meal, will now have to go beyond the farm and into the labs of these seed breeders. It is there that they can select, test, harvest, select, test, harvest, select… and here we thought farm to table would be the ultimate trend. Now we have conception to compost! I never saw so many chefs, so excited. We ate a dinner of the aforementioned conceptions: see Gaston Acurio’s squash, which has just a number not a name. I’d also like to mention that we at The International Culinary Center were so honored that our Farm to Table students were asked to help out in the kitchen with these iconic chefs. A new challenge in the top ranks of the culinary universe!

ICC Students

You heard it here first, look for the names of seed breeders on your next menu!

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We are brimming with excitement at The International Culinary Center because we are introducing a groundbreaking Farm to Table program for aspiring chefs. At each of our campuses (New York and California) we have designed unique and compelling curriculums for career students who also want a deep understanding of responsible farming.

On the east coast, our course will focus on local, four season gardening, urban roof top gardening, ecologically sound dairy practices and other important product related issues. Among the field trips students will visit an urban roof top farm, Brooklyn Grange , a dairy farm, a North Fork vineyard and other model farm programs.

The highpoint of this course will culminate with an ICC exclusive, a one week total immersion program at The Stone Barns Center in Westchester, New York. Chef Dan Barber, a grad and James Beard Outstanding Chef, was chosen by David Rockefeller to create an educational haven for sustainable farm practices at his Westchester estate, Stone Barns. Chef Barber along with his Blue Hill team has received world class attention for their work. (Dan was chosen as one of Time’s most influential people).

Chef Dan Barber, Stone Barns Center

L: Adam Kaye, VP of Culinary Affairs, Blue Hill with students

Brooklyn Grange, urban roof top farm, field trip

Macari Vineyards, Mattituck, Long Island, field trip

Dan has designed a special course for our students to spend a week at Stone Barns and study everything from understanding soil to breaking down animals. We are thrilled to provide this exceptional educational experience for our students.

Our inaugural class begins on December 18, 2012. There is limited availablity, so enroll quickly if you are interested,! Take a peek at The International Culinary Center: Farm to Table.

At our west coast campus, we have designed an exciting course focused on the unique assets and bounty of the Pacific coast and California’s extraordinary growing seasons.

In designing this course we have tried to take full advantage of the diversity of farming in the state. From cattle ranches to the Monterey Aquarium, from a responsible industrial farm to the Zen Center at Green Gulch Farm, the ICC in conjunction with Karen Karp Resouces has created a dynamic and unique program for the ecologically responsible chef. Here is the exciting outline.

Core Issues in Agriculture and Sustainability

A hands-on, interactive, and practical introduction to core issues in agriculture and sustainability that links primary food production and sustainability principles to the learning objectives of the ICC culinary arts and kitchen management curriculum.

Students will learn:

  • How food is produced;
  • Culinary implications of agriculture production;
  • Principles of sustainable agriculture;
  • About claims & certifications;
  • About consumer expectations & concerns; and
  • A chef’s policy and advocacy platform

Through an introduction to the agricultural landscape, including vegetable production, fruit production, viticulture, animal product production, aquaculture, wholesale market, and public education.

The goal is for students to visit 6-10 sites over 5 days.  Below are confirmed sites and their focuses:

Monterey Bay Aquarium: marine biology, climate change and the marine ecosystem; principles of wild fish harvest and aquaculture production; environmental implications of wild fish harvest and aquaculture production

Love Apple Farms: small-scale, biodynamic, chef-centric farming, farm to plate

Alba Organics (Salinas Valley): organic; understanding/training farmers to become entrepreneurs; labor issues

Bolthouse (Salinas Valley): 2nd largest carrot producer in the U.S.; large-scale production – harvest to store, growing, processing; understanding soil issues

Bolthouse Carrot Farm

Ridge Vineyards (Cupertino): organic vineyard; viticulture; water use issues/biodynamic; understand grape harvest, post-harvest and production activities

Ridge Vineyards

San Francisco Produce Market: procurement, how food moves locally and globally; marketing food; advocacy; policy; consumer expectations; certification

Ferry Terminal Market: run by CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable

If you or any of your friends are committed to working and understanding our land, this is the course for you.

Now I’ll get back to munching on my organic, Napoli carrot!

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